Social support may help attenuate the pain and depressive symptoms among rheumatoid arthritis patients

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Social support may help attenuate the pain and depressive symptoms among rheumatoid arthritis patients

Pains and aches of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be difficult to tackle. Prolonged RA can affect patients physical as well as psychological life as persistent symptoms may cause depression and stress among the patients. It has been shown that factors improving the patient's psychological health like social support can be helpful. By providing positive social support, psychological symptoms like depression can be improved.

Susanne Brandstetter and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate the effect of social supports among RA patients. A total of 361 patients were included in the study and a stress-buffering hypothesis was performed. The hypothesis states that the negative consequences of stressors on health can be buffered by higher levels of social support. In this study, pain acts as the stressor and depressive symptoms as negative consequences. The questionnaires regarding the social support, depression and perceived pain association were provided to the patients. After completion of the questionnaire, a linear regression analysis was applied to collect the data. In this, the pain was taken as the main explanatory variable, depression as the dependent variable and "social support × pain" as an interaction term.

According to linear regression study, higher depression scores were well associated with higher pain levels and lower social support. However, "social support × pain” interaction term was not that significantly related which explained that social support did not lessen the pain and depression. Hence, social support was inversely related to depressive symptoms among the RA patients. Furthermore, no buffering effect was seen in attenuating the association between the stressor "pain" and the negative health outcomes “depressive symptoms." This reflects that the RA patient's data do not support the stress-buffering hypothesis.


Rheumatology International

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The original title of the article:

Pain, social support and depressive symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: Testing the stress-buffering hypothesis


Susanne Brandstetter; Gertraud Riedelbeck et al.

Exploratory, Rheumatoid arthritis, Joints, Cross-sectional study
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